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North,South Koreas to set up hotline between leaders

21 April 2018

As preparations for the meeting gathered pace, South Korean media reported that the North's leader, Kim Jong-un, and the South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, would talk over the phone before they meet next Friday.

North and South Korea have opened a historic hotline directly linking the two leaders ahead of next week's high-stakes summit; potentially clearing a path towards the official end of the 68-year long Korean War.

With just a week to go before Kim and Moon become the first North and South Korean leaders to meet in more than a decade, officials were trying to ensure the summit would proceed without incident or embarrassment.

"From April 21, North Korea will stop nuclear tests and launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles", the Korean Central News Agency said, according to Yonhap News.

South Korea's presidential office said a successful test call was conducted on the hotline between Seoul's presidential Blue House and Pyongyang's powerful State Affairs Commission.

Thus far, Trump has not insisted on any show of good faith, such as suspending weapons development - by North Korea.

Amid this process of approach, Kim has planned to dialogue in May or June next with U.S. President Donald Trump, made his first visit overseas to China in March and his Foreign Minister, Ri Yong Ho, was later in Beijing.

Since the end of the Korean War in 1953, the top USA priority with North Korea has been to deter North Korea from once again attacking its neighbors or the US - and aside from a handful of individual incidents, the USA has been successful through strong alliances and military presence in Asia.

South Korea earlier said Moon and Kim were likely to hold a telephone conversation before they meet on April 27.

"I do not know if any joint statement to be reached at the inter-Korean summit would include wording about ending the war, but we certainly hope to be able to include an agreement to end hostile acts between the South and North", the official said.

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This will be the third inter-Korean summit between both countries, after summits previously held in 2000 and 2007.

"We still have many obstacles to overcome during the upcoming dialogue".

Seoul, which shuttled between Pyongyang and Washington to set up the meetings, says Kim has expressed genuine interest in dealing away his nuclear weapons.

"History has suggested we really have trouble implementing these deals", said Patrick Cronin, director of the Center for a New America Security's Asia-Pacific security program.

He also said he was considering sending a delegation to the Winter Olympics in South Korea in February, a visit that began a succession of steps to improve ties.

But are Trump, Kim and Moon talking about same thing when it comes to North Korea giving up its nuclear capabilities?

In a week from today history will be made on the Korean peninsula.

With Abe seated next to him at Mar-a-Lago, his gilded retreat, Trump told reporters that negotiators from North and South Korea were already at work discussing ways to bring a formal end to the Korean War, after the 1953 armistice left the divided peninsula in a perpetual state of tension.

He is the most senior USA official to meet with a North Korean leader since Secretary of State Madeleine Albright met with Kim's father in Pyongyang in 2000.

North,South Koreas to set up hotline between leaders